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Full text of "The David W. Niven Jazz Collection - Catalogue & Notes (Revised 2013-05-18)"

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The David W. Niven Collection of Early Jazz Legends 1921-1991 

Meticulously Collected, Compiled, and Narrated by David W. Niven, 1930-1993 
Generously Donated by David W. Niven to the Foxborough High School Jazz Program, Stephen C. Massey, Director, 2010 

Archived to CD-Quality Digital Audio by Kevin J. Powers, 2010-201 1 

650 tapes • 1,000 hours • 1,378 WAV files ■ 637 GB • 691 JPEG scans of cassette liner cards & literature 

NOTE: Overtime, the quality of some tapes has degraded more than others. These files are CD-quality reproductions of what was on the tapes as of 2010-2011. 

Henry "Red" Allen (trumpet) 

Louis Armstrong 1 (cornet, trumpet, vocal) 

Chet Baker 2 (trumpet, flugelhorn, vocal) 

Sidney Bechet (clarinet) 

Bix Beiderbecke (trumpet) 

Chu Berry (tenor sax) 

Clifford Brown (trumpet) 

Lawrence Brown 3 (trombone) 

Pete Brown (alto sax) 

California Ramblers (big band) 

Benny Carter 4 (arr., big band, alto sax, clar., trumpet) 

Charlie Christian (guitar) 

Buck Clayton 5 (trumpet, arranger) 

Wild Bill Davison (cornet, trumpet) 

Vic Dickenson (trombone) 

Johnnie Dodds (clarinet) 

Harry Edison (trumpet) 

Roy Eldridge (trumpet) 

Duke Ellington (piano, arr., big band) 

Duke's Sidemen (piano, arr.) 

Bill Evans (piano) 

Bud Freeman (tenor sax) 

Stan Getz (tenor sax) 

Benny Goodman 6 (clarinet, big band) 

Al Grey (trombone) 

Bobby Hackett (cornet, trumpet, vocal) 

Scott Hamilton (tenor sax) 

Lionel Hampton (vibes) 

Jimmy Harrison (trombone) 

Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax) 

Fletcher Henderson (arranger, big band) 

J.C. Higginbotham (trombone) 

Earl Hines (piano) 

Johnny Hodges 7 (alto sax) 

Billie Holiday (vocal) 

J.J. Johnson (trombone) 

James P. Johnson (piano) 

Keg Johnson (trombone) 

Barney Kessel (guitar) 

Includes some Jack Teagarden (trombone). 
Includes some Gerry Mulligan (baritone sax). 

3 See also Duke Ellington (piano, arranger, big band). 

4 Includes some Count Basie (piano, big band). 

5 Includes some Count Basie (piano, big band). 

6 Includes some Charlie Christian (guitar), Lionel Hampton (vibes), 
Harry James (trumpet), Gene Krupa (drums), Teddy Wilson (piano). 
See also Duke Ellington (piano, arranger, big band). 

Andy Kirk Orchestra 8 (big band) 

Tommy Ladnier (trumpet) 

Eddie Lang (guitar) (same tapes as Joe Venuti) 

McKinney's Cotton Pickers (big band) 

Mid 40's All Stars (miscellaneous) 

Mid 50's All Stars (miscellaneous) 

Ernest "Punch" Miller (trumpet) 

Thelonious Monk (piano) 

Jelly Roll Morton (piano) 

Jimmie Noone (clarinet) 

Red Norvo (vibes) 

Floyd O'Brien (trombone) 

King Oliver (cornet, trumpet) 

Kid Ory (trombone) 

Charlie Parker (alto sax) 

Joe Pass (guitar) 

Oscar Peterson 9 (piano) 

Bud Powell (piano) 

Andre Previn (piano) 

Django Reinhardt (guitar) 

Gene Schroeder (piano) 

Frank Sinatra (vocal) 

Bessie Smith (vocal) 

Willie "The Lion" Smith (piano) 

Joe Sullivan (piano) 

Art Tatum (piano) 

Jack Teagarden (trombone) 

Frank Teschemacher (clarinet) 

Clark Terry 10 (trumpet, flugelhorn) 

Frank Trumbauer (C-melody sax, clarinet, alto sax) 

Joe Venuti (violin) (same tapes as Eddie Lang) 

Fats Waller (piano) 

Dinah Washington (vocal) 

Chick Webb's Orchestra (big band) 

Ben Webster 1112 (tenor sax) 

Teddy Wilson 13 (piano) 

Lester Young 14 (tenor sax) 

Trummy Young (trombone) 

Includes some Mary Lou Williams (piano, arranger). 
Includes some Ben Webster (tenor sax). 

10 See also Duke Ellington (piano, arranger, big band). 

11 See also Duke Ellington (piano, arranger, big band). 

12 Includes some Bennie Moten (piano, big band). 

13 Includes some Benny Goodman (clarinet, big band). 

14 Includes some Count Basie (piano, big band). 

An Early Jazz Recording Collection 

by David W. Niven 

My 20-year-old cousin introduced me to jazz when I 
was 10. It was a 10" 78 RPM OK recording of "My 
Heart" made in Chicago on November 12, 1925, by 
Louis Armstrong's Hot Five with Kid Ory, trombone; 
Johnny Dodds, clarinet; Lil Armstrong, piano; and 
Johnny St. Cyr, banjo. On the reverse was "Cornet 
Chop Suey." 

My hip cousin then advised me to get some recordings 
by another cornetist, Bix Beiderbecke, who started 
recording for OK the same year (1925). I dug, again, 
into my newspaper route money (35 cents) and bought 
the October 5, 1927, recording of "At the Jazz Band 
Ball," backed by "Jazz Me Blues" by "Bix and his 
Gang": Bix on cornet; Bill Rank, trombone; Don 
Murray, clarinet; Adrian Rollini, bass sax; Frank 
Signorelli, piano; and Chauncey Morehouse, drums. 
Over the next few years, I acquired every record Bix 
made prior to his early death in 193 1 . 

Encouraged by my interest in jazz recordings, my 
cousin came up with a third suggestion for my 
collection: Duke Ellington. One year prior to Louis' 
and Bix's first recording, Duke and his six piece band 
"The Washingtonians" with Bubber Miley, cornet; 
Charlie Irvis, trombone; Otto Hardwicke, sax; Fred 
Guy, banjo; Sonny Greer, drums; and Duke, piano, had 
their initial commercial recording date in November 
1924. I became the proud owner of every recording up 
to the start of WWII and some 75% of his recordings 
until his death in 1974, some 180 hours of the recorded 
Duke Ellington. 

Throughout the ten years prior to WWII, during my 
high school and college years, my 78 RPM 10", 
followed by 33 1/3 RPM LP, collection grew to the 
thousands. All the big names of jazz, along with lesser 
legends, were included, and I found myself with a first 
class treasure of early jazz music. But I also found that 
such a collection was a first-class burden when I was 
moving through the post-war years with family, 
financial, and other fidelity responsibilities taking 
priority. I had always hoped that maybe at least one of 
my kids would show an interest in my collection, so I 
began making tapes that could include a chronological 
compilation of my collection, along with commentary: 
date and place of recording, personnel, soloists, etc. 

The main reason for doing this rather major project 
was to put my collection into some kind of 
compendium form that would attract my children to 
the music that had been of such significance in my life. 

My collection amounted to over 10,000 15 hours of 
tapes. I will list here most (but not all) of the Legends 
included, along with the years of their recording and 
the number of hours on the tapes. 

No two people will agree with my selection of 
Legends. I decided to choose from the years prior to 
the BeBop period, i.e., before Gillespie, Bird, Monk, 

Archivist's Notes 

by Kevin J. Powers 


It appears, based on Mr. Niven's audio commentaries 
referencing certain artists still being alive at the time of 
the commentaries (for example, Buck Clayton, who 
passed away in 1991, is living, and Johnny Hodges' 
salary is compared to "1993 dollars"), that he put the 
tape compilation together during a period of time 
beginning somewhere in the mid to late 1980s and 
ending somewhere in the early 1990s. His own 
memory on this point is no longer clear. In my 
conversations with Mr. Niven, he has indicated that the 
materials in this selection of "Early Jazz Legends" 
only represents about 40-50% of what he once had in 
his jazz record collection. Other legends, such as 
Bennie Moten and many, many others, were in his 
collection did not make the "cut" for these tapes. 

Mr. Niven contacted Steve Massey, Director of Music 
for the Foxborough Public Schools and Director of the 
Foxborough High School Jazz Program, in autumn of 
2010 with an offer for the music program to 
"download" the tapes for use by the students. Mr. 
Niven was probably not aware of the fact that there is 
no way to download cassette tapes as one would 
download a CD or other digital medium to a computer. 
Instead, cassette tapes, to be converted to a digital 
format, must be played back in their entirety into a 

15 Archivist's note: The actual figure is "over 1,000 hours of 
tapes," a still very remarkable collection. 

computer sound card and recorded in real-time — just 
as creating a new cassette from another cassette 
requires playing the entire source cassette while 
recording into the copy cassette. In other words, while 
a CD can be downloaded to digital audio in a minute or 
so, a 90-minute cassette requires 90 minutes in order to 
be converted to digital audio; a 110-minute cassette 
requires 110 minutes in order to be converted to digital 
audio, and so forth. 

Equipment & Process 

For this project, I used a TEAC AD-500 cassette deck, 
a desktop computer with a modern SoundBlaster sound 
card, and the audio recording program GoldWave. 
Each cassette was recorded to a single WAV-format file 
at 44100 kHz, 16-bit quality, to match the quality of 
CD-audio. Each resulting WAV file was split at the 
division between Side A and Side B of the cassette, in 
order to make it possible for each WAV file to fit on a 
single 80-minute CD. 

I did not have the time (though perhaps someone else 
will in the future) to cut the WAV files into shorter 
segments for each individual tune. To have done so 
would have delayed this project many years. At any 
rate, much of the joy involved in listening to these 
tapes is having Mr. Niven's insightful commentary as a 
guide. Especially for a generation of listeners who 
have grown up pulling individual MP3 files for 
specific tunes off of the Internet, it is a beneficial 
experience to have a jazz expert (as Mr. Niven most 
definitely is) guide the listener through the life and 
times of the most illustrious figures in jazz — and, in 
the process, introduce the listener to numerous 
recordings with which he is doubtless unfamiliar. 

Although MP3 files are more common than WAV files, 
only WAV files, while much larger, are complete, 
uncompressed reproductions of the sound recorded by 
the computer. The compression process involved in 
producing an MP3 removes portions of sound. 
Therefore, while this project will ultimately include a 
corresponding set of high-quality MP3 files, the WAV 
files will remain as a fully accurate reproduction of the 

At Steve Massey's request, I began archiving these 
cassettes in November of 2010. The project was 
completed in October of 201 1 . We started with Benny 
Goodman Tape 1 , and we ended the initial run with the 

final recordings of Duke Ellington And His Orchestra. 
We then made corrected copies of about 60 tapes that 
appeared to have had gaps in their initial run copies. 

Liner Cards 

In order to create a complete copy of all of Mr. Niven's 
liner cards, I scanned each card at 400 dpi resolution. 
The JPEG images that resulted are as legible as the 
original liner cards. Until I or someone else type up all 
of the liner card listings, we have a complete copy of 
the cards. 

Each card lists artist, tape number, years, and tunes. 
Below the tunes is a key to the numbers next to each 
tune, which indicate the source recordings. For 
example "1 Cottontail" and "1 : RCA Victor LP In A 
Mellotone" indicates that the recording of "Cottontail" 
is from RCA Victor LP "In a Mellotone." 

Condition of the Tapes 

Many, if not most, of these tapes are in terrific shape, 
but others are in mediocre or even poor condition. I 
have rigorously and regularly cleaned, maintained, and 
tested (with known excellent-condition cassettes) the 
heads of the cassette deck used for this project. All 
defects heard here are on the tapes themselves rather 
than the deck used to play the tapes back. 

Final Thoughts 

This is an extraordinary collection. It has been Mr. 
Niven's life's work. It represents the very finest 
American music of the twentieth century, and because 
Mr. Niven took the time and care to record these 
commentaries, he has produced a library that is 
accessible to everyone from jazz aficionados to jazz 
novices. For the Foxborough High School Jazz 
Program, which has enriched the lives of so many 
students, this remarkable compendium of jazz 
recordings should similarly enrich the program itself. 
This is all made even more remarkable by the fact that, 
had Mr. Niven not had the foresight to contact Steve 
Massey in 2010, this entire collection may have 
disappeared. How many collections of jazz like this 
get junked after estate sales every year? 

Thank you, David — your devotion to jazz will enrich 
the musical education of hundreds of students! 


David W. Niven 
Collection of Legends of Jazz on 90-Minute Tapes 16 

Years Recordings Made Total Hours 


Louis Armstrong 
Roy Eldridge 
Bix Beiderbecke 
Henry "Red" Allen 
Tommy Ladnier 
Bobby Hackett 
Wild Bill Davison 
Buck Clayton 
Harry Edison 
Clifford Brown 
Chet Baker 
Clark Terry 
Ernest "Punch" Miller 


54 hours 
7.5 hours 
7.5 hours 
9 hours 
1.5 hours 
1 5 hours 
12 hours 
8 hours 
6 hours 
16.5 hours 
10.5 hours 
1 5 hours 
1.5 hours 



J.C. Higginbotham 
Vic Dickinson 
J.J. Johnson 
Jack Teagarden 
Lawrence Brown 
Jimmy Harrison 
Keg Johnson 
Floyd O'Brien 
Trummy Young 

Big Bands 

Duke Ellington And His Orchestra 
Duke's Sidemen 
Fletcher Henderson 
McKinney's Cotton Pickers 
California Ramblers 
Andy Kirk Orchestra 
Chick Webb's Orchestra 
Benny Goodman 












7.5 hours 
9 hours 
7.5 hours 
6 hours 
1 8 hours 
25.25 hours 
0.75 hours 
0.75 hours 
1.5 hours 
5 hours 

192 hours 
10.5 hours 
9 hours 
2 hours 
1 hour 
1.5 hours 
6 hours 
50 hours 

Although the majority of tapes in this collection are 90-minute tapes, a large number are 60-minute tapes, 100-minute tapes, 110- 
minute tapes, and 120-minute tapes. 

Clarinets and Alto Saxes 

Benny Carter 
Johnny Hodges 
Frankie Trumbauer 
Pete Brown 
Charlie Parker 


21.5 hours 
58.5 hours 
6 hours 
3 hours 
14 hours 

Soprano Saxes 

Sydney Bechet 


9 hours 

Jimmie Noone 
Johnnie Dodds 
Frank Teschemacher 


1.5 hours 
10.5 hours 
3 hours 

Tenor Saxes 

Coleman Hawkins 
Chu Berry 
Ben Webster 
Bud Freeman 
Lester Young 
Stan Getz 
Scott Hamilton 


24 hours 
7.5 hours 
13.5 hours 
1 5 hours 
1 5 hours 
1 5 hours 
9.5 hours 


James P. Johnson 
Thomas "Fats" Waller 
Willie "The Lion" Smith 
Jelly Roll Morton 
Art Tatum 
Teddy Wilson 
Earl Hines 
Joe Sullivan 
Gene Schroeder 
Thelonious Monk 
Bud Powell 
Bill Evans 
Oscar Peterson 
Andre Previn 












3 hours 
12 hours 
1.5 hours 
9 hours 
12 hours 
21 hours 
1 5 hours 
4.5 hours 
4.5 hours 
10.5 hours 
7.5 hours 
9 hours 
16.5 hours 
1.5 hours 


Lionel Hampton 
Red Norvo 


10 hours 
10.5 hours 


Eddie Lang 
Django Reinhardt 
Charlie Christian 
Joe Pass 
Barney Kessel 


6 hours 
3 hours 
1.5 hours 
6 hours 
1.75 hours 


Joe Venuti 


7.5 hours 

Female Vocalists 

Bessie Smith 
Billie Holiday 
Dinah Washington 


4.5 hours 
12 hours 
1.5 hours 

Male Vocalists 

Louis Armstrong 
Frank Sinatra 


54 hours 
12 hours 


Mid 40's All Stars 
Mid 50's All Stars 


1 hour 
3 hours